Thursday, December 29, 2005

Gold for Britain

This is a picture by Alan Mcfaden who I haven’t seen for 40 years and who became and is aphotographer. We are now in regular contact electronically.
Thats me back right aged about 15.On the left standing is Rodney Hugh Lesley Brangwyn who I was astonished to discover recently had won a gold medal for Britain when in his 50's. It turned out to be for single sex dancing in the 1998 Gay Olympics and so the shock was not quite so great. An enduring memory of mine is watching cricket practice at the school ground.On the right the first and second elevens played each other. In the centre pitch the less talented cricketers played and on the far left an extraordinary sight as the fat the unfit and the otherwise no hopers appeared to be moving in a convoluted way for cricketers as Rodney led them in a military two step which culminated in a mass salute.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Only half a cup of team for me.

Spent Christmas with son and girlfriend. The first Christmas Ann has not had to do and she was ecstatic. I feel a lot better than I usually do 3 days after Christmas too as I did eat so much. Not because of lack of opportunity but because I didn't want to appear too much of a pig in someone elses house. Sometimes this unatural restraint backfires badly on me. I still have nightmares about an event which occured 15 years or so ago while staying with friends. "Would you like some bacon and eggs?" they enquired.
"No thanks a piece of toast is fine", I said, feeling that I must not put them to any trouble. They duly produced the toast but then went on to cook themselves a full english! I was devasted, this was an appalling lack of judgement on my part.
Anns mother, back of head in picture, has a nice little ploy that she frequently uses. " Just half a cup of tea for me please" as if this request saved the host either time or fortune. If we eat in a café the obligatory roast its "Just a small meal for me you always give us far too much". I feel like throttling her on such occassions as it is cardinal rule in my book that you never ever, ever, ever, tell a restaurant their meals are too big.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bacon sandwich fails to impress

Soon I am going to have to have to turn somebody in.
There is not much more I can say without involving either somebody I work with or live near and that ultimately means trouble.
The urge to blog is strong. Like walking along the Pembrokeshire coast path and being pulled towards the edge I feel drawn towards two subjects. Together they could keep me going for at least a couple of weeks. It is very tempting. I shall resist for the time being.

Meanwhile here is a picture taken in April when we hosted a very nice French English teacher called Geraldine from our twinned town of Gouesnou in Brittany. She has just discovered a Harry Potter book in Hay on Wye, the ‘Town of Books’ . I didn’t know she was an English teacher when she arrived and had carefully rehearsed in French a complete Tommy Cooper joke which I was going to perform at a small dinner party in the week arranged for us and a couple of other hosts and their guests.
As she was so good with English I asked her if I could try it out on her first in English to see if she thought it was funny in case the French translation of mine was wildly off.
You know the one - a chap says to the waiter, “Have you got frogs legs”. The waiter replies, “Oui monsieur” and the punchline line is “Well hop over the counter and fetch us a bacon sandwich”. It took me ages working out how to say that in French.
Any way I run through it all in English and having delivered the punchline I ask;
“Well is it funny” to which she replies without much pause and in French “Non”. So that was a couple of hours work down the drain.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A couple of Vicars

This year Canon Ivor Davies died. An ‘AliceinWonderland’ expert,chess fanatic and a philosophy buff,he and Tom Weston, a retired dentist and fellow chess fanatic who seemed to be possessed with the spirit of Paul Morphy , played each other for 24 hours in a shop window in Hay on Wye where Ivor was the vicar. Ivor smoked a pipe and Tom chain smoked cigarettes ; at 3 O’clock in the morning it would have been an eerie sight for some late returning town dweller to meet these two faces illuminated through the smoke . Clergymen have their own postal chess club to which Ivor belonged its magazine was/is called ‘Chess Minister”.
Then there was the late vicar of Llyswen Martin Jones. He was a good chap. Ann would drag me to Church once a year on Christmas Eve and Martin would give the same sermon every time from an old exercise book except that he would alter it by omitting different parts so that only once did I hear the full unexpurgated version. This full version was very good and I have heard nothing since from anybody else that interested me as much as Martin’s full monty Christmas Eve sermon. I wish I had told him at the time.
I went to Church on Christmas Eve but Ann went every week . One year I was doing an OU Science course and an experiment was to observe the swing of a pendulum.
I tied an old horse brass to a piece of string and swung it backwards and forwards.
The experiment called for me to hold the swinging pendulum and to walk round in a circle . This was to show that the pendulum would continue to swing in the original plane. I didn’t know what I was supposed to see and so as I circled the swinging horse brass on the end of a piece of string in the garage I began to chant in boredom.
I heard the gate go and took it that my son had come back for lunch and just continued in the garage holding the swinging pendulum and walking in a circle chanting.
It turned out to be the Vicar bringing back a plate for Ann. I didn’t try to explain because I didn’t know where to start but I think he might well have had me down as a Satanist after that.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Conspiracy Theory

I have just posted the following to a news group and will be interested to see what they say.
Would any of you know what this is?
On my computer randomly there will occur at no particular time of day what sounds like a signal.
The opening is _ .. _.. _.. then it goes into a little jumble of sounds which I am too slow to translate into dots and dashes. The whole thing lasts about 7 seconds.I thought it might be something within the house switching itself on but for the first time last week I was approximately 1 mile from the house in the car and listening to the radio when the same intereference sequence occured - exactly the same.

I think I am being bugged by Tony Blair for going to the No 10 website and making rude remarks about him so if I should suddenly - its starting againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Friday, December 16, 2005

Faith, Hope and a bloody good salary

Odd how Charities are politically correct and yet charity isnt.
Notice how even some Christians change the phrase ‘Faith Hope & Charity’ to ‘Faith, Hope & Love’.
I am politically incorrect I like the idea of charity but I dislike charities.
To illustrate what I mean, yesterday I received a ‘marketing’ device from a charity called ‘Feed my people’,I notice it has various other names including the much less emotive DSPMM LIMITED.
Accompanying it was a letter saying how most of the children in Africa didn’t even have the shelter provided by an umbrella.
And what was the ‘marketing’ device accompanying the letter – you have guessed it an umbrella. I was tempted to say ‘Don’t you think on the whole it would have been better to send the umbrella to Africa?’
But I told them instead that I would not support an organisation that wastes the donations entrusted to it in this way. I said I ‘d keep the umbrella but that they will be pleased to know that I will make a donation directly to a local Mothers Union branch in Africa and so Africa will receive back at least that which they have squandered.
I see plenty of Charities where I work. Most of the admin staff get salaries equal to mine or better and I inhabit in the grubby world of commerce.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Rose by any other name

I typed in
anagram genius Financial Services Authority and got Hairy, evil, cretinous fanatics.
I must say that in all my dealings with The FSA I havnt found them particularly hairy.

Monday, December 12, 2005

What is the Wold Coming to?

Stow in the Wold 11th December 2005. England is just about full now.
I'd be all in favour of a cull but for the fact that I would probably qualify for the list.

Vous n’avez pas la prioritée

If you have roundabout with 4 roads joining it and 4 vehicles arrive along each road at the same instant in time then given the rule ‘give way to traffic on your right’ (or left if you are a Jonnie foreigner) , nobody would move at all ,but at least Immanuel Kant would approve of the morality of the situation. It takes a wilful disregard for the law on the part of somebody in order to keep traffic moving.
What is needed then at roundabouts and at life in general is a moderate dose of enlightened anarchy.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Here is a postcard of Llyswen. This particular scene hasn’t changed except that the traffic has increased. Even 20 years ago I remember next door's West Highland terrier regularly strolling down the centre of this road like some kind of canine Gary Cooper approaching high noon. If it hasn’t been remade yet starring Tom Cruise you probably won’t get that reference.
Wouldn’t it be good if the world ran out of oil once and for all? People would be too bone idle to stray from the cities and the roads would sprout weeds. Excellent indeed.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Llandrindod Wells again - yesterday.
The sign outside the news agents reads, 'Proud to be local'
There is something deeply wrong philosophicaly with that.
How can you be proud to be local? Everybody is local, except God and since he is everywhere even He is local.
How can you be proud of something you share with everybody else? Its like saying "I am proud to be human" - meaningless unless you a trying to make your dog feel inferior about his genetic code.

Haddock fairy shy knee

Today I looked at the stats for this blog on sitemeter and I found that somebody had been referred to it by the MSN Search Engine. They had searched for ‘Rood Off the red nose’. MSN found rood in my address boughrood and it found red in the Cocky Ollie birds bit and it found the nose of the geriatric pole dancer who wasn’t. It therefore concluded that my site was the number one possibility for the poor chap who had typed it in.
I bet he was disappointed when he got here!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lost Birds

I cant find this song anywhere on the net and so repeat it here in the hope that somebody might recognise it. If you do let me know. It was sung in Junior School (Lee Manor) round about 1955!

We are the Cocky Ollie birds in red and blue and gold
We come to earth in penny trays our purpose to be sold
Our little legs are stiff and straight we cannot move a limb
Our voices loud and we are proud and still we always sing
Cocky Ollie Cocky Ollie Cocky Ollie Oh’

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Handcuffed by a word

They have taken the scaffolding away from JO’s.
JO’s is what the locals call the Spa shop in Llandrindrod Wells because the owner is J O Davies. The Welsh have a thing about names. A regular in the Griffin, Llyswen, was a man who’s name was Harold but whose history was that of a prisoner of war who stayed on when it ended. He was known ever after as Herman the German.
Dai Farter, another name I remember from the Griffin but I cant testify as to it’s appositeness since I never managed to meet him.
I am sure the Llandod locals when they christened it JO’s had in mind something more than just initials after all Spa has fewer syllables. Probably they liked the contrast between the idea of OJ and the idea of JO as men.
Last week when the scaffolding was up I called in to JO’s to purchase a ‘Bombay Bad Boy’ for lunch. (See Harvest below). Facing one of the scaffolding poles with her nose an inch or so from the metal itself and both hands clutching the pole at eye level was an elderly lady. I shall resist any mention of geriatric pole dancing because it would be in very poor taste but I think I know why she was there.

We used to have a Welsh terrier called Nippy and like all of his kind he was untrainable.
The only way to stop him from escaping from the garden was to shout loudly and violently STAAY!! . He would stop still and turn to look at you. You could see his brain calculating the possibility of your reaching him before he made freedom. His decision, escape or remain still and await capture was invariably right and sometimes very finely judged. Many times when he had decided on the open road rather than surrender he evaded capture by the slimmest of margins , my hand grasping for his tail as he forced his way through the hedge just failing.
I was trying to pretend to my wife that I had given up smoking and part of the plan was to use a mouthwash. I was just approaching by car the house swilling the stuff round in my mouth when I noticed Nippy strolling out of the gate. Coming towards him on foot were two neighbours one of whom was a retired clergyman. I had 3 choices of action but could only think of two.
Let him risk wandering into the busy road or quickly opening the door of the car spitting out the mouthwash and shouting as loudly and aggressively as possible STAAAY! I loved the dog and so chose the latter. What on earth the neighbours thought when they saw this violent performance with additional vomit I do not know.
Meanwhile back at the pole my theory is that either some social worker or perhaps relative of the lady in question wanted to pop into JO’s for their lottery ticket etc.
In an attempt to ensure that their charge did not escape they had positioned her holding the pole and uttered the equivalent of STAAAYY!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Getting to know who

Went to Cardiff on Saturday night to see The King and I’‘ at the New Theatre Cardiff.
Parked the car quite close to the theatre – (only!) £12 for 5 hours.
Walking back to the car park at about 10.20pm and it was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’. Hundreds of teenagers queuing to get into night clubs, like crow lined up in vast numbers along the telegraph wires, and just as menacing.
Lots of big pubs full of similar animals each looking very like a modern ‘glass for bars’ zoo cage. One was tempted to peer in to the windows to get a closer look at the curious creatures occupying the deeper shadows. I remember a zoo in Colchester which had a cage with some kind of small furry mammal laying on its back and trembling as if in it’s death throes. There was a sign in the cage which said ‘please do not report this animal as sick it is nocturnal and they always sleep like this’.
By the car park ticket machine one of the, humans I suppose you would call it, was urinating in a corner close to the queue and it was all I could do to prevent Ann from remonstrating with him. She does not understand the etiquette of this species. I do, having watched ‘Booze Britain’ occasionally on the television I feel confident in recognising some of the signals which pass for a rudimentary language among them.
‘Does your mother know you do this kind of thing?’ I am pretty sure would have been regarded as some kind of challenge had I allowed her time to utter it.
Off course we had heard the odd ambulance and police siren during the performance of the musical, which was particularly appropriate I thought during the rendition of ‘Getting to know you’.

Oh I did see two policemen out for a stroll together. One was aged 12 and the other maybe 13.They both wore helmets but even with the helmets on they were shorter than me and I am no giant.
The question which is worrying me is which is the alien species? Them or me?

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I am prejudiced. Prejudice is what prevents me from putting my hand in the fire again.
A very nice lady an ex school mistress from the days when they actually knew something, who lives nearby rang my wife and I answered the phone. She had been in hospital and so I asked how she was.
Seemingly taken aback by my interest she said, “Oh! Very good in parts”.
Trying to show off I said “ Like the Parson’s egg?”
To which she immediately replied “Certainly not”.
I realised at once it should have been the Curate’s Egg and took the rebuke to be pedantic.
Months later after she had died it came to me that she was being much more subtle.
The Curate’s egg quotation is all about humility and the very, very last thing you could say about our ‘Parson’ was that he was in any way humble.
I now cannot remember why I am following this particular route when the object in mind is to slander the Americans.
Perhaps I was thinking that my school master prejudice prevented me from seeing a first class joke and a bit of self depreciation might make what follows more acceptable.
Anyway some Americans I like, some Americans I even admire but generally speaking when presented with an unknown American he has to overcome my natural prejudice against his whole kind.
I have played maybe 2000 to 3000 games of chess on the internet against people from all over the world.
Here is a ‘conversation’ that has occurred on at least 3 occasions.
Yank: Where U from?
Me: Wales
Yank: Which State is that in?
More frequently than that and I would say in between 3% and 5% of all games the following typical ‘conversation’ follows a game.
Me: Nice to meet you too.
Me: I am pleased to see that you have such a fine grasp of the English language.
Etc, etc.
One particular ploy against this kind of thing which I find surprisingly effective is to allow two or three bits of foul language and then for me to say “I take it you are American?”. This seems to startle them and I get the impression that it is as if I have held up a mirror and all of their obscenities are being channelled back onto their precious flag. Maybe they’ve just come to the end of their vocabulary though.
I will say that my own race, the English are the next most aggressively foul mouthed on the net. How appropriate that they should be united in the Iraq aggression.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Freedom of Information and nice work for some.

Here is an email response to a request I made to Powys Health Authority under the freedom of information Act.
No wonder the GPs are fighting to get on to the lists to do this cushy number.
They need something to supplement their meagre pay after all!!

I refer to your request for information which we acknowledged on 27th May 2005

I am able to provide with the following information concerning the rate of remuneration to practitioners providing the out-of-hours service in Powys:

* Weekday evenings 6.30pm to midnight - £65.00 per hour

* Weekday and weekend evenings midnight to 8.00am - £100.00 per hour

* Weekend day and evenings - £85.00 per hour

* Bank holiday day and evenings - £100.00 per hour

* Bank holiday nights - £115.00 per hour

The Local Health Board does not hold information in respect of individual practitioners. As you may be aware, Powys Local Health Board contracts with ‘Shropdoc’, which provides the GP out-of-hours service in Powys.

In contrast to that consider the lower end of the pay scale in the NHS.
They knock off of the wages of anybody who has their monthly payslips posted to them the cost of the stamp!! It is shown as a deduction.
Here is another reply from Powys Health authority under the freedom of information act.

Thank you for your email request under the Freedom of Information Act concerning the amount of money saved by the Local Health Board each year through the practice of charging staff postage sending them their wage slips through the post.

I am able to advise you that the Local Health Board does not save finance as the Board recovers the charge of a second class stamp from those employees who receive their salary slip through the post. You may wish to know that approximately £450 is recovered from staff each year. You may also wish to know that the Local Health Board does not charge everyone who has their payslips posted home. Members of staff who are community based, or on long term sick leave, or on maternity leave are not charged the cost of posting their salary slips. The only time a member of staff is charged is when that member of staff, based in a hospital, surgery or clinic, requests that their payslip is sent to their home address

From these two letters I conclude that 4/1/2 hours kip waiting for a phone call on a good weekend for a Shrop Doc would pay for all the stamp money saved in an entire year for the poor workers who have 21p a month deducted by their generous employer for the privilege of receiving a wages slip.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I was discussing euphemisms for ‘going to the lavatory’ with a French teacher of English. I told him one that I had heard on the radio. There was a brief pause as he considered each word in turn and then collectively and then he roared with laughter.
‘I am just going upstairs to see an old friend off to the coast’.
I wonder how many French students on an exchange visit to the UK will try that one on their hosts and with what results.
I will confess and although you don’t want to hear it I am going to write it anyway that whenever I visit the said premises I imagine myself to be at some other location but not for the same purpose.
The curious thing is that this is almost invariably at the conjunction of the Thames and the River Kennet, failing that a steeped walled mooring at Goring on Thames.
Finally just to complete this little trilogy Brockley County Grammar School in the early 1960’s had a Geography teacher called Mieux whose favourite punishment was to give out ‘lines’
‘Silence is golden it is only monkeys that chatter’.
Rarely he would come into contact with foul language from the boys, language which these days would probably serve to win for the proposer a grade C in English O level.
Mieux’s, contemptuous would say ‘I will not tolerate lavatory language’. This was felt by us as a powerful rebuke as if we ourselves had been sworn at.
It only occurs to me today all these years later that there is no necessary connection between lavatories and foul language and this is and was a very odd phrase to use.
photograph of Goring Lock courtesy of Jim Shead - see his waterway site

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

David Shrigley

I regret never having heard of this chap - but he is brilliant. Try the link.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Powis Castle

Yesterday we went to Powis Castle , the National Trust holding a ‘behind the scenes’ tour. There were about 10 of us and we were accompanied round by at least 8 National trust people. One of them assigned the role of ‘sheepdog’, scuttled about at the back of the ensemble ensuring no mavericks made a bid for freedom or engaged in an unauthorised activity. I like the National Trust and it’s volunteers but their enthusiasm makes them unpredictable. When booked the tour was to take two hours, the leader said about 2 1/2 hours and the actual time was 3 1/4 hours. I wouldn’t have minded but we didn’t seem to have among us visitors any of the usual timewasters and inane questions were really at a minimum. It was worth it though.

Friday, October 28, 2005


It is quite extraordinary that the police can shoot an innocent man 7 times in the head and still manage to ‘tough it out’.
Blair by name Blair by nature.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Big Bang and Roast Beef

As from deepest space there comes to us the earliest sign of the fiery birth of the universe, the remnants of ‘Big Bang’, the ‘singularity’, so too I notice the smell of Sunday roast in the far extremities of the house long after it has disappeared from the kitchen and the dinning room.
The two events are connected.
I don’t mean that my Sunday lunch was simply implicit in the starting point of matter/energy at the birth of the universe and the underlying rules which governed it’s evolution. I mean that analogy is how we think not an aid to thinking.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


In 1956 Ladywell Recreation Ground had been known as such for 56 years or so.
50 years later and I saw today that they now call the same place Ladywell Fields.
4 syllable words are obviously too much for the modern day dweller of Lewisham & Catford.
Ladywell itself has 3 syllables and surely cannot survive.
Perhaps it will become first Lady Fields, and then, because Fields are a bit of a difficult concept in Lewisham, just plain Bitch Pitch

Friday, October 07, 2005

Harvest Festival

This the first week in October and I decided to go on a 5 day diet of my own invention, one which studiously avoided any connection with anything to do with the bogus science of nutrition. The diet consisted of a random Pot Noodle for lunch and a more specific Bombay Bad Boy for tea. If still hungry I decided that apples were probably OK and so I bought a bag of bramley cooking apples from Sommerfields.
The diet went fine but on Thursday night I found that the Bombay Bad Boy was insufficient to curb my appetite and so I went off in search of the bramley apples which Ann had ‘put away’ somewhere. In the garage I found 3 beautiful looking apples, seeming a little bigger than I remembered, grouped together on a sideboard.
I ate one and found it delicious – cooking apples taste much better than ‘eating’ apples. I do realise that cooking apples and Pot Noodles may be a little advanced for the squeamish.
Half an hour later I went into the garage again and ate another one.
Today it is Friday 7th October and tonight is the Harvest Festival and Ann is extremely annoyed that of the 3 special apples she had bought for a Church decoration, carefully laid out in a practice arrangement in the garage, only one remains.
I appear to have eaten a Church window.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Quotes 2 (Overheard)

Wife's friend "That must be awful to have 2 children one a lesbian and the other killed in Spain"
Wifes's Aunt"I've seen him walking up our road looking in all our fronts"

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Talk to your robot

If you type ‘Klatu verada nictu’ into Google it comes up with 469 references to it, or at least there were today. This phrase has stayed with me for more than 40 years during which time I have forgotten countless other things, probably it stayed because I felt that someday it might save my life.
It comes from a ‘black & white’ film called ‘The day the earth stood still’ which starred Michael Rennie and a robot called Gort.
The phrase in question had to be memorised by the heroine and spoken to Gort to pacify him and prevent him from killing her and going on to destroy the world. Gort, by the way, was a huge figure, rather like an animated suit of armour but much more menacing.
The film terrified me but then for 30 years or so I never saw the film again or heard any mention of it.
I was watching, I lead a very sedentary life, the Rockford Files (James Garner) and there came a scene in which a huge thug hove into view, much to the despair of the hero who on sight of his massive opponent uttered the words ‘Klatu verada nictu!’
I immediately understood. I thought to myself surely I must be the only person in the UK who understands that reference, maybe the world?
That was more than 10 years ago so today I thought I would just check out Google in case the film has become a huge cult success and the reference was not quite so obscure as I had thought.
Well 469 does not I would have thought indicate a very high level of recognition. I reckon the James Garner script was almost a private joke by the writers and certainly to be welcomed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Psalms 78.66

When I worked for the awful Pearl Assurance Radio 4 broadcast the complete bible over a number of weeks. Travelling to Hereford by car to the foul company as I was required to do weekly I found that the program had got up to 'Psalms'.
I was struck by a line in one which went;
He smote his enemies in the hinder parts.
I expect some awful Hip Hop rapper dumbed down translation has already rendered this as He kicked arse
Actually there is no connection between Pearl Assurance and the Psalm other than the arse connection. I only mention Pearl here at all because that is where I was going when I heard the psalm and it gives me the chance to express my contempt for them in passing.

Light question

We see a tree because light comes from the tree and enters our eye.
But why do we see a tree when all we get is light coming from the tree?
What information about the tree does the light contain?
It can only be colour or brightness or both – nothing else.
The colour of light is the same thing as the frequency of the waves of light.
The brightness of the light is the amplitude of the waves of light.
We are told that waves superimpose and that light waves behave in the same way as other waves (see diffraction of light).
Given that the tree is over there and I am here and there are rays of light coming from the tree to my eye made up of light at frequencies and amplitudes corresponding to the colours and brightness of the various parts of the tree.
My question is how does light preserve that information about the tree when in the intervening space between me and the tree there is light of all frequencies and amplitudes passing in all directions and superimposing upon my ‘tree light’.
I would have thought that this would destroy the original information completely by changing the wave.
I am missing something which is pretty obvious I am sure, as nobody else seems to need to raise this question. Can somebody enlighten me?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Round about the summer of 1979 I was sitting on the banks of a creek in the middle of an Essex saltmarsh, there was not another human being to be seen. After an hour or so the creek began to fill up energised by the incoming tide.I sat there and noticed something drifting in. As it neared I saw that it was a very old sealed bottle. It bobbed past and I grabbed it. Through the grime I could see inside a message written on some yellowed paper.
I tried to open it but the stopper was well and truly fixed. The only way to read the message was to break the bottle.
I thought ‘bugger that I might cut myself’ so I threw it out to sea.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Me and a recent Baguette

Just in case there was any doubt as to who you were dealing with here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

email after France again

Dear Pat,
just remembered something else - could this be an early manifestation of your interest in poetry? You and Dennis introduced me to autograph albums. There was nobody in mine except what either you or Dennis wrote which I remember as follows;
'The lightening flashed the thunder roared
And all the world was shaken
A little pig ran to his sty In time to save his bacon.'

You know you can have chunks of wood, stones etc found on a beach say which are exhibited as works of art -do they call it objets trouvés ?
Well you can find poetry in a similar way. I 'found' while listening to the shipping forecast,
'Low heading west, slowly losing identity' - sounded like a definite fragment of a poem to me.
Also last week on holiday in St Jacut de la Mer on increasing the croissant order from 3 to 5.
Me: Il mangent plus en plus
Bread lady: C'est le Bon aire de St Jacut.
I wanted to say 'You are a poet but do not know it 'but realised it wouldnt work in French even if if I had a clue how to say it. So I just said Vous etes poet.
Best wishes

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Friend of my wife
1) “No thank you I was told by my herbalist in 1968 that I mustn’t eat cauliflower “(advice which has obviously stood the test of time)
2) On a local asking for the ‘ hand in marriage of a lady acquaintance; “Well she might as well he’s had everything else” (Meeow!)

Overheard mother of my wife.
1) “ I meant to ask her how she was getting on with those buckets” (I did not feel inclined to ask what she intended doing with the buckets – one is usually sufficient for my purposes)
2) “Do you remember when I had those legs?” (She still has them so far as I can see)

Overheard Aunt of my wife
1) “Anyway she’s having nothing that’s got a carcass on it” (a fashionable form of vegetarianism?)
2) “They are both poorly him and her they asked “S” where they could get a cooked chicken for Christmas” (Oh the humanity!)
3) “She’s crippled with the wheelchair” (cause and effect?)

Overheard in a Dunster teashop.
“Ill get the coffees dear – Id like to do more but your mother pays tax and I don’t”


1) on his encounter with a local streaker; “ Well I can tell you he wasn’t doing it for the excitement”
2) Lady ambulance medic to gentleman who had been taken ill in Church presumably she was trying to empathise. “Whats the matter love – didn’t you pray hard enough?”
Vicar ; “What do you mean he is alive isn’t he?”

Personal Identity

email sent to Tom Sorell 20th August 2005

Dear Prof Sorell,
I was at an ‘optional’ OU lecture at Bath on Personal Identity a few years ago.
The lecturer, whose name I cant recall started off with something like ‘Who is Joe Bloggs? What does it mean to say that you are Joe Bloggs? What is this thing that persists through time that we call Joe Bloggs?
At which point an elderly lady rose to her feet and clutching her handbag to her breast interrupted , “ Your not Tom Sorell are you?” . Turned out she had come to the wrong lecture.
Did the lecturer who’s name I cant recall mention this little incident to you?

Douglas McLeod

Fag Theory or the aesthetics of nicotine

When I smoked the world was 2 dimensional. It was like a map. Rivers bridges roads etc I passed by like running a finger over symbols on an ordinance survey.
This was good, it served a purpose. Divorced from the world the brain was free to contemplate more theoretical problems. What is said of cigarettes is true they do aid concentration.
Sometimes, when I hadn’t smoked, ordinary objects looked startlingly different. They became three dimensional, I was aware of the space around them. I stared at them as if I hadn’t seen them before. Maybe Van Gogh had given up smoking when he painted that old wicker chair and pipe?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


If I were a God but a not quite omniscient God I would conduct grand experiments to determine the kind of Universe I was operating in.
One very interesting experiment I would do involves a school playground and a good supply of schoolchildren.
I hasten to add for the politically correct among us that being God I would ensure that no children were physically harmed in this experiment.
Afterwards I might write up the experiment as follow.
To determine the minimum number of children required to produce a constant background noise.
1) Empty school playground
2) 60 small children
3) Tape recorder

Switch on tape recorder
Begin to drop the children 1 by one into the empty playground counting into the tape recorder as each one falls… 1,2 ….3 etc
As the number of children builds up so should the noise level so that eventually there comes a point , theory suggests around 20, when there are no discernable gaps in the wall of noise.
One could continue dropping children into the playground and estimate whether the noise level, pitch etc is related to numbers of children dropped.

It is indeed a great mystery to me why this should occur at all. As a child I never shouted in the play ground and yet it is an incontrovertible fact that a noisy hysteria occurs when the number of children in a play ground reaches a certain figure.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Live 8

In case I forget and someone asks me in 20 years time where I was when Live 8 was on.
First I cut the grass and then I went to bed because there was just a load of noisey rubbish on the Television.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Selfless Society

David Hume starts from the idea that we are completely ‘blank’ at the beginning of life and that it is through the senses first that we react with the world.
Hume called these sensory perceptions ‘impressions’. He distinguishes them from a similar kind of entity which he called ‘ideas’. An idea is the memory of an ‘impression’. He described ideas as being less vivid than impressions as you would expect.
It follows that for something to be known to exist in the world we must be able to experience it as an impression.
Everybody must feel that if anything exists in the world at all it must be ‘self’ because that is the entity with which we are most familiar.
Hume says that you cannot actually point to an impression of self. When you come to think about it you do not perceive self but only some particular feeling or idea.
He then goes on to show that the idea of self is a construction of the imagination.

I recommend Hume’s philosophy as brilliantly lucid and original (don’t be put off by my rendition which was just a private exercise for me – read the real stuff )

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Whats in a name?

Veronica Kermode
Barrington Bugg (Independent Financial Adviser)
Willy Burns (Builth Wells)
Oliver Spankie (Chief Steward – Hay Festival)
Fleur Lush (Scottish Widows)
Dashita Dave (Friends Provident)
Euryn Jones (Journalist)
Heffin Jones (Alliance & Leicester)
Gary Uren (Suttons)
Kulwinder Bassi (Norwich Union)
Wim Dik (Director Norwich Union)
Daffodil Jones
Lamanda Nangle (Irish permanent)
Laughton Lashford (Scottish Provident)
Ulick Murphy (Camberford Law)
Graham Grout (Zurich Ins)
Nigel Titt (Highgrove Financial Services)
Moyra Purves MA A.C.I.I.
Andria Squirrell (FSA)
Victoria Sherry (Threadneedle)
Muriel Strain (Premium First)
Frances White-Hole

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Ontological Proof

We are said to be made in the image of God. One consequence of this is that God must be a little like us. We have a sense of humour and so it can be inferred that God too has a sense of humour. It certainly would be a divine joke if the ontological proof were a logical proof of the existence of God. If I were wholly God rather than merely an image I would certainly consider allowing this proof to succeed. A logical proof in which nobody believes would be a more interesting way of managing humanity than a personal appearance in the clouds above London.
Every now and again I think I understand the proof.
This time I will write it down while I think I have it.

God, whether he exists or not, is defined as the most perfect being one can imagine.
Thats a definition I think that you can accept for the purposes of this argument whether or not you want to accept the conclusion which is obviously coming.

Next however perfect the being is that we imagine it is always possible to imagine a being who is more perfect because he does actually exist. So the most perfect being is one that exists rather than one that does not exist.

If it is possible for God to exist then he must exist because existence is a necessary attribute of the most perfect being. (as just shown).
So it only has to be shown that it is possible for God to exist in order to prove that he definitely does exist.
Is it possible for God to exist? Yes it is possible for God to exist because anything that we can imagine is possible and it is only by examining what is actually in the world that we discover whether it exists or not.
However in the case of God the mere possibility of his existence guarantees his existence.
As I write that I already feel it slipping away again.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Bombsites 1950s

I lived at 22 Cambridge Drive with my parents and sister. That's a road in South London at a place called Lee Green. The period I am talking about is from say 1950 to 1956. Between 5 and 11 years after the end of the war.The large area or it seemed large to me between Cambridge Drive, Leyland Road , Osberton Road and Eltham High Road was a bomb site. But because it was between 5 and 11 years after the cessation of the war it was a beautiful bombsite overtaken by nature with ruins mysteriously rising out of reclaiming vegetation.About this time I was introduced by David Silver to the CS Lewis books about Narnia and the bombsite really did have the quality of another country. In fact I could draw a map of its main geographical features now. The 50's were a time of paranoia and the incident I remember most concerned a German Spy.I was probably about 7 and there were a few of us, maybe 5 or 6 who played regularly on the site. There were bigger boys there too and some had constructed a circular track where they raced their bikes. I think speedway must have been an 'in sport' in those days.These boys would also sometimes set off explosions and we smaller boys wanted desperately to have a go and so pressed them to tell us how to do it. I remember Colin Steer one of the big boys taking us aside and disclosing the secret formula. The principal process involved soaking newspaper in water. Colin was obviously a sensible fellow for despite our following the formula to the letter we not surprisingly failed miserably.One of the other big boys swapped a huge commando knife that his father had brought back from the war with me for, I think, a Dandy Annual. My mother made me take it back as soon as she found out but not before the German Spy episode. The big boy, whose name I have forgotten also I think fancied himself as a leader of men. He gathered us smaller ones together and told us of the German Spy that he had been observing. Every evening at a specific time this spy was seen to walk slowly through the bombsite leading a small dog to divert attention from himself. He was obviously waiting for the coast to clear so that he could make contact and pass information on.A plan was devised whereby the, 'leader of men', whose name I have forgotten and his platoon of 7 year olds including myself would track this spy keeping, ourselves well hidden in the lush vegetation. As soon as contact was made we would spring from the surrounding jungle and kill or capture them. I don't know about our leader but I and the rest of the group believed 100% in the mission. Luckily contact was not made and no doubt some poor chap in the habit of walking his dog on the bombsite every evening has been blissfully unaware that he was being followed by half a dozen 7 year olds one at least carrying a 12 inch commando knife and all of them prepared to kill him if necessary. Now the bombsite is an awful block of flats.

Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee

Here is a thought experiment.Consider a machine that can duplicate theposition and state of atoms - a people duplicator.Another machine having the capacity to transmit matter, perhaps byconverting it into radiation first.A human being is 'duplicated' and simultaneously transmitted together with his duplicate into a room.The room itself is the inside of a sphere so that all directions look thesame. There are no windows and no objects in the room.The room floats free in space far from any other matter so there is no gravity, ie. no up or down direction.Now imagine the person and his duplicate materialising in the room, one behind the other like they were part of a queue for the bus.The one at the 'head of the queue' would see the blank walls of the room. The one behind him would see the back of this other figure.Perhaps the one behind might tap his duplicate on the shoulder who would turn around and then a conversation would ensue between the original and his duplicate.Although one is a duplicate of the other they are able to hold a two way conversation because when they materialised in the room their experiences became different one experienced the wall visually whereas the other experienced the back of a head.But if the machine that transported them into the room had materialised themfacing each other so that when they became aware of their surroundings they saw exactly the same things what then?I think that because there is no different experience for either of them they would continue to do and say exactly the same thing for all time. They could never hold a two way conversation because the initial symmetry of their experience cannot be broken .Is there anything they could do so as to avoid spending forever in a Tweedle Dum Tweedle Dee existence.?

Swiss Family Vomit - email

From: Douglas McLeod Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 13:50 PM To: Alan_McFadenSubject: Swiss Family Vomit and other Tales
Back from France. Going over by Condor Ferries (I can hear you saying 'Ahh Condor' as I write). Behind us a family of about 6 - I avoided all eye contact. Bit of a swell. They commence to vomit in turn, in paper bags , on the table, on the floor - everywhere. I experienced their strange world through all of my senses except my sight - I refused to look. At one point I heard the following. Vomiting Child -" Dad why are you the only one in the family not to be sick?" Father " Give us another couple of minutes". Le Vieux Moulin also provided an interesting example of bodily functions. In its beautiful faded but still elegant restaurant which could seat about 60 there was one other couple on the other side of the room - Kraut I think and we were seated behind and next to a solitary Frog. Throughout the meal and over the next hour and a half the frog farted loudly continuously and with great variety of pitch, volume and rhythm. The Krauts could hear it all from the far side of the restaurant , luckily I think farting is part of German humour so it was OK. The hotel owner could speak no English and so it was a challenge to me to convey to him this little scene. Searching the dictionary I thought 'vent' might have something to do with it and in looking up this word I found 'avoir vent' to have or break wind just what the doctor ordered. My son is in a tent , bottom right bit of Australia, Botany Bay. Should I send him to spy Woodworth? Bye for now Douglas